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Norman Z. McLeod
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Olivia de Havilland,
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W.S. Van Dyke
Pretty Rae Smith and handsome Walter Saxel meet, fall in love and make plans to marry. Unfortunately, their marriage plans get sabotaged when a jealous beau makes Rae miss the ceremony. The... See full summary »
John Carteret has long been depressed and lonely, because, at his wedding years ago, his bride, Moonyean, was murdered. He accepts into his house Kathleen, the 5 year old orphaned niece of Moonyean, and she quickly grows up to look just like her aunt. Kathleen meets and falls in love with a mysterious stranger from America, Kenneth Wayne. When John hears of this he is furious, and we learn that it was Kenneth's father, Jeremy, who had killed Moonyean years before. John carries his grudge against Jeremy to the new generation, and threatens to ruin his niece's happiness, but he softens in the end. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This third film version of the play is earnest enough and MacDonald and Aherne play very well together. The Technicolor is rich and saturated, but suffers from having too many scenes filmed either indoors in dimly lit rooms or outside at night. The plot is not changed.
The problem is with Raymond. He has no chemistry with his real life wife (MacDonald) and is rather strange looking, almost smarmy. He neither interests nor excites as a love interest for Jeannette. She certainly throw herself into creating passion for his character, but he rather blandly just looks back and spouts his lines. I was wishing for Aherne's ultimatum for Jeannette to give up Raymond to be embraced fully.
Although MacDonald has songs, they are period pieces and the title tune, so it's not really a musical, just a play with music.
Still it's one of the great tearjerkers of all time (May Time, East Lynne, etc.) and should be seen, but seek out the 1932/33 version with Shearer and March. It is really the best. The 1922 silent starred Norma Talmadge, but only two prints survive and they are in archives. The straight talkie drama was deservedly nominated for a Best Picture Oscar and is the one preferred.
However, if you don't have access to it, at least watch this color version, so the beautiful and sentimental story of lost love can wash over you.
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